“I Can’t Remember” “borrows” (nudge nudge…wink wink) a riff. From where, you ask? From “Man In The Box”, three tracks previous, that’s where. Shame shame…if you’re going to rip off music, at least have the sense and common decency to rip off an old dead blues musician like everyone else. “Put You Down”, too? Sigh…not good, not good. Normally, two very good songs guarantees at least a C/C+ when all is said and done. But with filler this bad, it takes a moderately interesting track eleven to push it over the top.
(“Man In The Box”, “Sea Of Sorrow”)
I’m not sure exactly what to say here…”Congratulations on showing your soft side, which isn’t really any better than your hard side”? “Bravo on making your filler marginally more interesting”? “Where’s the eject button”? “I feel very sorry for the one good song here”?
(“Got Me Wrong”)
I’m moderately amazed. Where are the horrendously weak tracks? How the hell did they write this? It’s a little too heavy on the heroin quotient, sure. But this is a solidly enjoyable album, with several transcendent moments to boot. It has vocal AND musical hooks, and some fairly decent/mysterious lyrics. Bravo, and thank you.
(“Them Bones”, “Down In A Hole”, “Would?”)
2010: (Even better than I thought. In retrospect, Layne Staley’s cry for help…and therein lies the power. The riffs don’t hurt, either. Brilliant display of desperation…RIP Layne) Grade: A
Jar Of Flies (1994)
Amazing. Just as ‘Dirt’ was the unexpected progression from Facelift, this is the even more unexpected MAJOR progression from ‘Sap’. Six out of seven songs kick in very nicely, and track seven is obviously just a throw-away, but still manages to generate a bit of interest. Underrated, out-of-the-blue, one of the best albums of the year.
(“Rotten Apple”, “Don’t Follow”)
2010: (Well…the last track WAS intended simply as a bit of fun, so…) Grade: A+
Alice In Chains (1995)
You’ve just put out one of the best albums of ’94 (and probably the best album you’ll ever make), so what do you do? Take your time to write a solid follow-up (e.g. Soundgarden post ‘Superunknown’), or rush something out to sell it while you still can, before you inevitably fade away with the rest of the “Seattle Sound”? Yup, sounds about right.
2010: (I think I was too harsh…unbelievable disappointment, after all, generates unbelievable frustration) Grade: C+
Live albums, in general, are a good barometer for differentiating between a good band and a good studio band. Stripped of their power and the aided-by-studio vocals of frontman Layne Staley, this performance is almost embarassing. Power and/or melodic appeal without mechanical aid are indications of a good natural singer, and Staley displays neither here. An extreme disappointment to me, and a waste of fine material. I can’t pretend I even listened to the whole album more than once. I don’t get paid for this, and my paranoia kept insisting it sucked.
2010: (Horrible renditions of really good songs can’t destroy them completely) Grade: C+